Ford Planning Hybrid F-Series By 2020
Ford’s long-term plans for the F-Series apparently include a hybrid drivetrain. In a December 14th interview with NPR’s Ali Shapiro, Ford’s CEO Mark Fields confirmed the automaker is working on a hybrid F-Series.
“Well, we do have plans to have a rear-wheel drive hybrid truck but the end of the decade. So yes, we’re working on electrified F-series.”
The topic came up when Fields was asked about the disparity between sales of its conventional hybrid vehicles like the Fusion and C-Max, and the more traditional F-Series, Fields added to Shapiro’s question by saying, “[Hybrids] only represent around 2.5 percent of the total industry.” He continued in saying that as the percentage of hybrid sales grows, Ford will have positioned itself to respond.
The remainder of the short interview went on to discus Ford’s overall business and environmental sustainability, and the balance of both in the light of climate change. It’s easy to see how a hybrid F-Series would tie into both areas, as the F-Series (the F-150 through the F-450) is Ford’s number one product and how creating a hybrid version would help lower the automaker’s overall CAFÉ numbers.
Environmental aspects aside, Field’s promise for a hybrid F-Series by the end of the decade is big news. The automaker has already taken steps to improve the F-Series’ fuel economy. Lightweight aluminum bodies for both the F-150 and upcoming Super Duty mean reduced fuel consumption. Turbocharged, smaller-displacement engines in the F-150 further reduce consumption. Moving to a hybrid drivetrain is a logical next step.
From Field’s comments, Ford will only produce a 2WD hybrid truck, helping it get the best possible fuel economy. Whether or not such a truck will be a commercial success is yet to be seen.
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Why It Matters
It’s that question of commercial viability that really begs to be explored. The typical F-Series buyers are looking for a hard working, reliable utility-oriented vehicle that can take abuse and keep running. Those buyers typically prefer horsepower and torque numbers over fuel economy. There again, some buyers are looking for better fuel economy on a vehicle they daily drive, yet still need to pull a boat on the weekends. Still others, say large corporate fleets, look to squeeze every dollar they can from pickups. When it comes to fuel expenses, every cent counts. Hybrid trucks could potentially be a great solution, even surpassing CNG-powered options.
Ford has done a great job convincing traditional F-150 buyers that a twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter V-6 engine will do more work than a 5.0-liter V-8. Ford’s marketing team has done wonders with the EcoBoost name, and sales back that up. I say if there was ever an automaker that could introduce a hybrid drivetrain in pickup – and make it cool to own – Ford would be it.
It will be interesting to watch how this all plays out.
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